• Deirdre McCrohan

Tiburon resident overcame health issues to nab national swim titles


Tiburon resident Hamilton Tatum “Tate” Holt III, who overcame severe heart and lung problems to win national and international swimming titles just five years ago, died July 12 after suffering a heart attack while doing morning laps at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. He was 69.


Mr. Holt was born Nov. 9, 1951, in Macon, Ga., to Hamilton Tatum “Tate” Holt Jr. and Susan Phister Holt. The family moved to Belvedere when Mr. Holt was a boy, and he attended Belvedere School and swam for the Tiburon Peninsula Club.


His family then moved to Southern California, where he graduated from Palos Verdes High School and was recruited by Indiana University at Bloomington for its swim team, where he swam under the legendary Olympic and Hall of Fame Coach James “Doc” Counsilman; his teammates included future Olympians Mark Spitz and Gary Hall.


“I was the only guy in my class who did not make an Olympic team,” Mr. Holt said in a 2017 Ark interview. “I was very good, but I was not world class.” He would have to wait more than 40 years for that distinction.


He received his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 1973 and returned to the Bay Area after college. He started his career as a marketing representative for IBM, then moved to Triad Systems Corp. for 10 years and ADP in New Jersey for three. He completed the executive program at Stanford University and, in 1989, Mr. Holt founded his own consulting company, Holt & Associates, which helped businesses grow. His resume included stints with SoftBrands, Nagtags LLC — he held a patent for an electronic baggage tag — WorkingPoint, Cloudward and Onsite Energy Corp. More recently, he had served as a turnaround top executive for several technology companies.


At his death, Mr. Holt was chief executive officer of Roundtable Analytics in Larkspur. Backed by private equity and the National Science Foundation, the company delivers predictive analytics that improve patient care and financial performance of emergency departments.


Health issues that began in the 1990s led to his return to swimming. He developed an irregular heartbeat, and, over the course of several years, had five surgical procedures to correct it. Those procedures left him with scar tissue in several arteries. In 2005, a doctor told him one of his lungs had nearly 100 percent blockage from scar tissue, and the other wasn’t in much better shape. Two stents were placed into his pulmonary veins to get enough oxygen through his body to allow him to breathe normally.


To get back into shape, he began swimming again in 2007, joining the Tamalpais Aquatic Masters swim club, which practices at Marin Academy in San Rafael.


His return to the water proved to be triumphant.


In 2017, he won the 50- and 100-meter men’s individual freestyle races in the 65-69 age group at the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championships in Gresham, Ore.


His time of 27.41 seconds in the 50-meter race was the fifth-fastest time ever recorded among world masters swimmers in that age group, while his 100-meter time of 1:02.28 was the fourth-fastest. At the same competition, he also placed third among men in his age group in the 50-meter butterfly, second in a men’s 200-meter freestyle relay and third in a men’s 200-meter medley relay.


Holt then traveled with the club to the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August 2017. There, he received a gold medal and set a new world record with his club team in the mixed 200-meter freestyle relay as they clocked a time of 2:05.58. He also took two bronze medals in the men’s freestyle and medley relays. Individually, he won two silver medals in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races, along with fifth place for the 50-meter fly.


In August 2019, he placed first in the 50-meter freestyle swim at the FINA Masters World Championships, held in Gwangju, South Korea. Mr. Holt competed in two other races during that championship, placing sixth in the 50-meter butterfly swim and second in the 100-meter freestyle in the 65-69 age group — narrowly missing first place by three 100ths of a second, he said in an interview.


Mr. Holt also had competed in world championships in Italy and Canada. In summer 2020, he had open-heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. His doctors reportedly encouraged him to get back to swimming and, when he was in the pool at the time of his heart attack, he was training to compete in a race in October.


Mr. Holt was the author of three publications, “The Business Doc,” “Prescriptions for Growth,” and, later, a novel of intrigue and international crime called “Yamashita’s Gold,” based on his months working in the Philippines.


In 2019, Indiana University awarded Mr. Holt its Bicentennial Medal for “constructive action” during his undergraduate years at the school, recognizing his successful yearlong campaign to save a historic residence hall that was to be converted into administrative offices.


The Holts moved to Tiburon in 2014 and before that lived in San Anselmo. Over the years, he enjoyed rock climbing and sailing. He skippered boats all over the Pacific and the Caribbean, sailing to and from Hawaii, navigating by sextant.


Mr. Holt is survived by his wife, Lindsay; three sons from his previous marriage, Hamilton Tatum Holt IV of San Rafael, Nathan Morley Holt of Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Robert Austin Holt of Corte Madera; a sister, Susan Holt of Portland, Ore.; a stepdaughter, Danielle Leonard of San Diego; two grandchildren, Perseus “Percy” Frances Holt and Nina Skylar Holt; and several cousins. His sister Lisa died in 2017.


A celebration of his life will be held at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Ross. Memorial donations may be sent to Dec My Room, SF Bay Chapter, P.O. Box 811, Tiburon, CA 94920. Dec My Room is a nonprofit organization that decorates the rooms of children who have to be in the hospital for prolonged stays.

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